Accessing your inner wisdom

I'm sharing a three-part series on the biggest things I think you can get from intentional writing: space, ease, and wisdom.

We've talked about space and ease, which means today we're diving into wisdom!


I’ve been super interested in the idea of inner wisdom lately.

I think it’s because I haven’t always been very good at hearing (or listening to) my own.

For as long as I can remember, I haven’t been a great decision-maker—most of the time. I agonize over the normal big decisions (like buying a car or a house), but also over the small things (like where to buy lunch in the airport—no joke, this sometimes takes forever).

We could probably spend lots of time discussing why I do this—and I certainly have, with myself and others—but that’s not why I brought it up.

I’m telling you what a terrible decision-maker I can be because I want you to see the contrast with the times when…I’m not.

When I was 24, I moved from southern Virginia to Boston. With no job lined up, to an apartment I’d never seen. I couldn’t have told you why I was doing this, but something in me just knew it was the right thing to do.

After a few months, I knew Boston wouldn’t be my forever home, but I also knew it was still the right place for me at that time. Again, I wasn’t sure why, but I had a sense of peace around the whole thing.

Then when I was 29, I moved from Boston…to Birmingham. Alabama. With someone I had only been dating a year. We had never lived together, and I had never been to Birmingham—heck, I’d never even been to Alabama. But again, something in me felt very calm about this decision—there almost wasn’t a decision to be made. I just did it. (We still live here...and now we're married with three cats and a kiddo!)

I know this is odd coming from a girl who can draw out something relatively simple for weeks before making a final decision.

I think what happened in those (and other) times where I made decisions almost effortlessly is that I followed the voice of my inner wisdom.

And now that I can see that, now that I realize I’ve had a taste, I want more. I don’t want to wait for those moments when my inner wisdom pushes through all the worry and negative chatter and indecision in my mind.

I want to be able to access my inner wisdom when I need it, rather than layering over it with other (less important and misguiding) thoughts, ideas, and advice.

I don’t want to agonize over decisions, whether small or big. I want to simply listen to that voice inside of me that knows what’s right for me, right now. And I’m pretty sure I’m not alone.

So how do we access that inner wisdom? Here are my thoughts!


Pay attention to your body.

Some people feel inner wisdom and intuition in their heart area, some in their gut. And I’m sure others have different kinds of physical feelings that let them know to listen up. Begin to notice how you feel when you make decisions and when things go your way—or don’t. Over time, you can start to identify the feelings in your body first and then try to interpret what those signals mean. I think meditation could be a really great way to supplement the idea of paying attention—when your mind is more still, you may be more in tune with signals your body is giving you.


Actively request that it surface.

If there’s a decision you’re consciously trying to make, sit down and write about it. Start with the problem—like, “I’m trying to decide whether or not I should move…” and then keep going. Go wherever your mind leads you. If you get off track, examine what it could mean. You may just be trying to avoid thinking about the decision, of course, but you also may think you’re off track when really, the place your mind is taking you is totally relevant.


Make space for it to rise.

I would love to have my inner wisdom more present in my everyday life, not just when I’m making big decisions. But I don’t necessarily want to sit down and write every single time I have a decision to make, like “I’m trying to decide whether to finish my to-do list or take a nap...” (though, to be honest, in the beginning, that’s probably not a terrible idea). And that’s where an ongoing writing practice can come in handy. If you’re intentionally doing the kind of writing that creates space in your mind, you’ll make making room for your inner wisdom to surface more often.
 

Learning to listen to your inner wisdom isn’t something that will happen overnight (that’s true of anything that represents true growth and change). But like so many other things that take time, I believe it’s truly worth it.


So I’ve created something to help you make space for your inner wisdom and create ease around intentional writing. It's called Explore: 31 Days of Intentional Writing.

Each day for 31 days, you’ll get a prompt in your email. These touch on your past, present, and future, and are designed to help you get writing and see where it takes you.

But the prompts are just part of the magic! I’ll also send you a welcome guide that will help you set a specific, powerful intention for your 31-day practice—and Make space for my inner wisdom to surface would make a really great intention.

Then when you’re done, I’ll also send you a wrap-up guide to help you harness what you created (the writing you do, the momentum you create, or both!).

And each week, you’ll get encouragement from me as well as a reminder to check in on your intention—so the entire process feels deliberate and meaningful.

Use the code explore10 to save $10 off the price between now and February 25 at 5pm Central (tomorrow!!).

If you sign up between now and then, your first prompt will arrive March 1—but you’ll get immediate access to the welcome guide so you can begin setting your intention now.

If you’re on the fence, please hit reply to this email—I’m happy to answer any questions!

I’m super excited for March 1! Until then, I’d love to hear how your inner wisdom has surfaced in your life. Hit reply and let me know—I always enjoy hearing these kinds of stories!

With much love,
Erica

Creating space in your mind

Over the next couple of weeks, I want to talk about the three biggest things I think you can get from intentional writing: space, ease, and wisdom.

We’ll start with space. Here we go!


Imagine for a moment that you’re standing at the door to an attic.

It’s crammed full of things of questionable value (aren’t most attics?)—wobbly mountains of boxes, bike helmets, dusty lamps, and more.

You can tell that a lot of these things truly don’t need to be there any longer. They’ve served their purpose at some point, but they aren’t serving any purpose right now.

You wonder if there’s anything of value in here, but there’s really no way to tell. You’d have to get in there and go pile by pile, box by box, item by item to figure that out.

And if that doesn’t happen soon, the door will no longer close. You won’t be able to add anything else until you begin sorting through what’s already there.

Now imagine your mind as this attic.

Each day, you cram tons of stuff into it—conversations with those around you, captions on Instagram, emails, blog posts, books, billboards, food labels, items to add to your to-do list.

And if you don’t take the time to sort through it all, to make sense of what belongs and what doesn’t, your mind will start to look a bit like that attic—crammed full of things of questionable value.

Now let’s go back to the attic for a minute. Let’s imagine you decide enough is enough and you’re ready to tackle the beast. You likely don’t have huge blocks of time to set aside, so you decide to do a couple of hours each weekend until the task is done.

At first, it’s probably rough going. You don’t have a lot of room to maneuver, and you’re not sure where to start. But as you begin to pull things out of the attic that no longer need to be there, you make a little space. And then a little more.

Suddenly, there’s room to organize a bit. You can begin to make sections—holiday decorations, items to donate to the historical society, things you love that you want to incorporate into your home, costumes for the kids to use when they’re old enough to play dress-up, and so on.

As you get deeper into the process, you of course realize that some of what was in there was total junk—that’s true of all full attics. But you also find things you want to hold on to, to use, to keep around.

And, of course, there’s room to add more—should you want or need to.

I think the same thing is true for our minds. I think if we set aside time to declutter, to sort through, to figure out what’s valuable and what’s not, we’ll find we have more capacity for organizing and making use of the things we want to hang on to.

Of course, much like cleaning out the attic, the process of cleaning out our minds will probably feel slow and cumbersome at first. We’ll be a little overwhelmed by all that comes out. But if we chip away a little at a time, trusting that we’ll get there eventually, it’s totally doable.

And then if we keep doing it regularly, we can make sure there remains space in the attic of our minds.

So how do you go about cleaning out that dusty attic? How do you create space in your mind?


Here are some ways I’ve thought of (if you have others, I’d love to hear!):

Do a brain dump.

You can do this on a computer if that’s your thing, but when I’m doing this, I crave open space and the freedom to get messy. So I love pulling out some blank paper (I use the backs of things I’ve previously printed out!) and some colorful markers. Then I just start making little clusters of thoughts. Content ideas might go in the left corner, things we need from the grocery store in another corner, aha moments about the work I do right in the center, to-do items along the bottom, and so on. I just let my mind open up and spill out all that’s inside. This process is about jotting down short ideas—small pieces of information that float to the surface.

Have a conversation.

When you talk about your thoughts and ideas out loud, once you really get going, you often say things that surprise you. There’s something about opening your mouth and just talking that helps you make connections and release things your brain hadn’t quite consciously acknowledged yet. Just make sure you have pen and paper handy so you can write down all your brilliant insights!

Take a walk.

…or take a shower, or do something else that requires your body to be doing something but leaves your mind totally free. I don’t know the details of the science behind this, but I believe that during these times, your mind works on making connections and seeing things in different ways. I can’t tell you the number of insights I’ve had after even a ten-minute walk (if you listened to my episode on the Being Boss podcast, you might remember me talking about taking “clarity walks”). Just make sure you capture your ideas in the moment—I find mine escape far too often if I don’t because my mind jumps around so much.

Do some intentional writing.

Of course, you knew this would be on the list! Just open a document or get out a sheet of paper and a pen (I like lined paper for this kind of process) and start writing. Write in a stream of consciousness using sentences instead of bullet points, getting out whatever comes into your head. If you get stuck, write, “I feel stuck because…” and just keep on going. Write until you run out of time or out of steam. If you use a prompt, great! If not, just write about whatever’s on your mind.

But these steps are only part of the process.

Let's turn back to the attic for a moment. You've done a lot of work, sorting and cleaning out. But as you look around, you see there's more left to do. That pile needs to go to the donation center. The pile next to it is going home with you. Over there is the lamp you wanted to take to your aunt. And so on. You've made progress, but if you just walk away now, you won’t have finished the job.

The same is true for any of these space-making methods.

Once you get all these ideas out of you, you need to sort through them and use what you found.

Pull out your highlighters or open a fresh document and review all that you wrote down. Look for repeated themes and ideas, jot down any more thoughts that come to mind, and then sort everything into categories like:

  • action items
  • projects to tackle
  • ideas to think more about
  • habits to start
  • things to let go of
  • reminders to set up

Then take action on each category!

I truly believe that if you do this process often, your mind will look less like that crammed, dusty attic and more like the open, sunny space you crave!


Ready to start cleaning out that attic?

Or, to be more specific, creating space in your mind?
Explore: 31 Days of Intentional Writing is a great place to start!

Enrollment is open now for the March 1 session* of Explore. And if you sign up before February 25 at 5pm Central, you can use the code explore10 to take $10 off the price.

Check out the details and sign up here!

* Here's my current plan: Explore will be open for purchase year-round, and a new round will begin on the 1st of each month. If you wanted to begin on August 1st, for example, you would have until July 25th to sign up. On July 26th, registrations would still be open, but for a start date of September 1st instead. This is an experiment, so we'll see how it goes!

How intentional writing can help you


Psst...Guess what? Explore will be open for you next week!

You can learn more here. Then keep an eye on your email!


I think there are three big things you can get out of intentional writing:

  • space (in your mind and in your day)

  • ease (around writing and around pausing to reflect)

  • wisdom (that is, access to your own inner wisdom)

But I know sometimes it’s hard to imagine what those intangible things could do for you.

Intentional writing is a pretty open book. The point is simply to explore whatever's on your mind, and there's no telling what will come out of it. That's a good thing, but can also make intentional writing a little hard to pin down.

Explore brings a bit of focus to the process. In Explore, you’ll be answering a different prompt each day, based on your past, present, and future. But...I can't tell you where those prompts will take you! It'll depend on the intention you create, what's on your mind each day, how the questions make you feel, and so on.

So I can't really tell you what intentional writing will do for you. But what I can do is show you some possibilities!

So here are just a few things I think you could get from intentional writing (whether you choose to do Explore or not), in the three areas I talk and think about most—content, business, and life.


Content:

  • Discover new things you could share with the people you know you can help (stories about your past, dreams for the future, beliefs that you hadn’t quite found a way to express just yet)
  • See connections between some ideas you previously thought were separate things, sparking a post or email that helps your audience understand even more clearly what you offer / know / etc.
  • Realize what your “voice” looks like when you’re not trying or writing for anyone but yourself, and have concrete examples to use as you try to bring more of your real voice into your content
  • Feel less stress around the entire process of writing, and give yourself permission to just get it all out on the page before trying to make it ready for others


Business:

  • Discover (or rediscover) truths about why you started your business in the first place
  • Connect the dots between some ideas that have been floating around in your mind, and use this newfound sense of clarity to do any number of things (create a new offering, stop offering something that doesn’t fit in, work more or less or differently, and so on)
  • Give yourself permission to keep on pausing and digging deeper into your ideas, knowing that a bit of time spent exploring can make a big difference


Life:

  • Shine a light on some things you hadn’t realized you were struggling with (and that you can how begin to work on)
  • Highlight things you’re grateful for
  • Rediscover an old interest that you hadn’t thought about in a while Rediscover an old interest that you hadn’t thought about in a while (reading, painting, hiking, or whatever!)
  • Give yourself permission to spend time on yourself because you see what a difference it makes
  • Gain a habit of pausing each day to reflect on something—whether that’s how your day is going, an idea that came to you on a morning walk, or the way the light is hitting the floor beside your desk


If you’re intrigued, try out Explore Day to Day—my free intentional writing guide. You can download it right now from my free Connection Library*.

Inside, you’ll find a super-simple writing process (no excuses not to get started!), seven prompts to use in situations we all face often (like when you feel distracted, you’re working through a big idea, or you’re trying to come up with content to share), and an easy way to sort through and use what you’ve written.

Give it a try and let me know how it goes!

And keep an eye on this space (or your email)—Explore will be here next week!

And rumor has it there'll be a discount—but only for a short time!

Until then,
With much love,
Erica

 

*Don't have access to the free Connection Library yet? Sign up below! You'll get instant access along with (fairly) regular emails from me. I'll see you on the other side!